According to NetCraft in its 2014 Web Server Survey, the number of websites on the internet is approximately 1 billion up from just 1 website in 1991. What this means is businesses, individuals and other entities are increasingly registering their presence online through websites. There are many user-friendly and open source content managements systems that have come up to assist in building websites, a fact that has made the process even faster and more affordable.
After a website is built, it needs to be hosted on a server in order to make it accessible to other people irrespective of where they are located. By definition, web hosting refers to the process and business of housing, serving and maintaining uploaded files for websites. Depending on the plan, a host server may be dedicated to one website or share resources among different websites on the same platform.
Apart from the server storage space, web hosting includes internet connectivity which is a combination of both voice and data transmission over a network. The T-carrier system is the commonly used connection by a majority of hosting services.
By definition, web hosting refers to the process and business of housing, serving and maintaining uploaded files for websites.
How Web Hosting Works
Web hosting works by offering storage to website files in web servers which are high-powered computers connected to an extremely fast network. Whenever someone types in the address of your website also known as the Uniform Resource Locator (URL), the internet connection links him to the web server where your files are the stored and then downloads the files onto his computer from where he can view and read them. The process and set of rules involved in accessing the files and other resources from client servers is known as the Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP).
Just as your residence or place of work has an address, your website also has an internet address through which it can be accessed, known as a domain name. When picking a domain name for your website, you should factor in a number of things including the nature of your business, the simplicity of the domain name and the ease of remembrance. Even in the world of search engines and keyword phrases, it is important to have a sensible domain name which your users can type in and directly locate your site.
Types of Web Hosting Services
Initially, there were fewer web hosting plans. However, the advancement in technology has brought along with it additional web hosting options to meet the different needs and preferences of clients. There are different plans you can settle for as discussed below:
This type of hosting is a good choice for entities that are starting up and building non-critical websites. It gives you a low cost and easy option to building professional websites. You do not need a technical background since the website builders are designed based on “What you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG).
On the flipside, a free hosting environment comes with its own costs which include slow connection speeds, frequent website downtimes and automatic addition of banners to your website. Some companies which offer free web hosting may require that you purchase domain names from them while others may offer a free sub-domain under them. Free hosting plans are for people and businesses who are trying out before fully venturing online.
Shared Web Hosting
Just as the name suggests, shared hosting involves sharing of server resources amongst different users. The reason why people settle for shared hosting is the economies of scale where each of the users pay a little fee to access a wide range of server resources including the physical server and the software applications. Apart from the price attractiveness, shared hosting is easier to use because the servers are pre-configured with the popular options and the burden of maintenance and security rests on the host provider.
Shared hosting also has its own downsides where busy websites tend to slowdown the other sites on the same server platform. This may lead to bounce rates and Google penalties. The flexibility of shared hosting is also limited as users may not be able to modify core components or block specific ports.
Cloud hosting is a relatively newer type of hosting where websites are placed on virtual servers which in turn draw their computing resource from an underlying network of physical web servers. It is based on the utility model of computing where the server resources are available not as a product, but as a service.
Depending on the demands of your website, you can tap into the service as much as you need and you only pay for what you use. In times where your website requires lots of space for instance during peak times, the virtual server avails lots of resources and during off-peak times, it allocates the resources to other sites that need them the most. It is a go-between shared hosting and dedicated hosting. Virtual Private Server (VPS) customers share the hardware of the physical server with others, but at the same time the virtualization technology helps in partitioning the server so that dedicated resources can be allocated to each partition just like in dedicated hosting.
This type of hosting is flexible because the cloud responds to your server space needs and adjusts accordingly. With dedicated resources (memory, CPU and dedicated bandwidth), your site can accommodate high traffic without downtimes or inconveniencing the other users on the cloud. With technical experience, you can configure your server into the way you want it.
This hosting service occupies the furthest end of the hosting spectrum. Just as it sounds, dedicated hosting comes with its own resources and server enabling you to occupy your own space more or less like living in your own house as opposed to an apartment. Most businesses that require heavy pulling of server resources because of the nature of their activities prefer dedicated hosting.
This type of hosting gives you and your business flexibility and the privilege to customize the hardware and software specifications to satisfy your preferences. Since you do not share your resources with other users, you are guaranteed performance and full access to the root of your servers. This however comes at an additional cost and technical requirement.
Before signing up for a web hosting service, it is imperative you understand the nature of service your website needs, the type of server your business requires, the type of services offered by your web host and your budget.